These youths are paraded globally as crooks even when the establishment could have used lawful means to obtain non-custodial transformation and get these youngsters to refocus their talents into creatively constructive ventures. 

On the average, the nation’s prisons receive at least one dozen Nigerian youth per week as inmates and when you analyze their alleged offences and put them side by side with the gravity of monumental financial crimes committed by the old brigades and old breed politicians who control political powers, these petty crimes pale into insignificance.

I then ask myself why are the Nigerian youths been selectively targeted by the Nigerian state whereas big politically exposed individuals in their 60’s who have soiled their hands by stealing our commonwealth are consolidating their control of the political and governance machinery of the Nigerian state.

The answer to this line of inquiry is for the youths to transform their talents for disorder into some meaningful purposes and begin to reclaim their proper positions in Nigeria.  The Nigerian youths must wake up and smell the coffee. Drop the life of crime, use their talents well, galvanize these talents and mobilize to retire the old brigades sooner than later. Drop drug addictions and forget about suicides.  Professor Wole Soyinka has just told the Nigerian youths to be prepared to take over government in 2023.

The way to achieve this goal is for the youth to realize that the older people who are waging a class war against them cashing in on the involvement of some of the youths in petty crimes to tag all Nigerian youths as criminals will not voluntarily quit the political stage as they will continue to forge their ages and certificates just so they remain in political offices.

There is really no doubt that Nigeria has been messed up miserably by older generation.  But sadly, as the class war is being waged against the youth by the remnants of these old breed politicians, the youth themselves are yet to rediscover the essence of their central role as the real deal in the new Nigerian project. The youths have let themselves down by bastardizing all the platforms that should be used to launch them properly into frontline positions.

The students’ unions and the national council of youth society have all been hijacked by agents who are on assignments to enslave the younger Nigerians in perpetuity. It has even got to a stage whereby two evils have been set against the youth such as running away from Nigeria to God knows where just so they can survive and few who stay back are profiled as criminals even as some are committing suicides. Also, the youths of Nigeria are now reduced to the level of beggars who would need crumbs from the master’s table to make ends meet.

What is in vogue now among the older generation is to bring up certain policies they call economic empowerment of the youth just so the older persons can continue to dominate the polity.  The economic empowerment needed by the youth is the type Nigeria’s former High Commissioner to the UK; Dr. Christopher Kolade called the capacity to learn effectively; this he said is a proviso to bringing up successful leaders and ensuring a better society.

Kolade, who said this at the silver jubilee lecture of Olashore International School, Osun State with the theme ‘Leadership and Social Change: Developing 21st Century Leaders for Africa’, in Lagos, bemoaned a situation where the country keeps doing the same time year after year and expecting a change. He said “unless we apply the things that we learn, we may not be able to change our society the way it ought to be.

“One of our problems in this country is leadership. We lack the capacity to learn effectively and we keep doing the same thing year after year with an expectation that things would change. Our role is to see what we can do to solve the existing problem through a capacity to learn.” The youths must wake up and smell the coffee and tell the government that the only way to achieving lasting peace is for those amongst the political class who destroyed the economy of Nigeria to be prosecuted and punished rather than the current shadow chasing fight against corruption which is nowhere near a good fight. Adeyemi O. Oluwatobi wrote exactly why Nigeria is economically crippled and from his courageous analysis, it is clear that those who made Nigeria a laughing stock are not these youths been selectively profiled by EFCC as fraudsters but the real fraudsters are the  older generation who call the shots in the corridors of political power.

Oluwatobi wrote thus: “Nigeria is rich enormously in natural and human resources, with a population of over 150 million people; the most populous country in Africa at the time of her political independence, on 1st October 1960.  Nigeria excelled in production of agricultural produce such as groundnut, palm oil, cocoa, cotton, beans, timber and hides and skins.” He continued: “Then, during the oil boom period of seventies Nigeria made headlines with her oil wealth, as a country richly endowed with oil and natural gas resources capable of financing a number of important projects to meet basic consumption and development needs (Salisu, 200:2).

He then stated historically and statistically that with per capital income of around $1,100 during the late 1970’s Nigeria was regarded as the fastest growing country in Sub-Sahara Africa (Salisu, Ibid).  He lamented that yet it remains predominantly underdeveloped due to the scourge of corruption that has corroded it. Hear him: “Corruption denies the ordinary citizen the basic means of livelihood, it worsen unemployment and erodes our image as a nation and as individual… It has undermined Nigeria’s economic growth and development potential, with a per capital income of $340, Nigeria now ranks amongst the least developed countries in the World Bank League table (Salusi, op.cit).”


Onwubiko heads Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA)

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